Mattie Miracle 8th Annual Walk & Family Festival was an $88,000 Success!!!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

Random Shots of Mattie, Family and Friends

June 14, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2003. This maybe my favorite photo of Mattie by the ocean. Clearly he was hesitant by what he was seeing and yet intrigued by his first beach experience. After all the Atlantic is daunting. Beautiful but scary. It is loud, with crashing waves and it is huge. Mattie always had a healthy respect for things that could potentially cause him danger. Which was why I truly never had to child proof our home. I did on certain things, but with Mattie I really did not need to. He had a sixth sense about what to touch and what to stay away from and the ocean was one of those things on the long check list of things to avoid for a while until ready! Mattie's hands, like all small children, were precious. They were like antenna in a way. The fingers would go up and seem to take in data and signal back to his brain messages about his environment. His left fist was up in this photo, I did not capture the fingers radiating out, but that wasn't atypical for Mattie. His hands and fingers fascinated me, as they did Peter as well! Mattie was born in the ON position..... his brain was ALWAYS engaged and his body wasn't far behind!


Quote of the day: The truest indication of gratitude is to return what you are grateful for. ~ Richard Paul Evans


On Friday evening we experienced a Honey Moon. Apparently this is a very rare sighting. The next one to occur is in June of the year 2098. A Honey Moon is when the full moon is at its perigee (when it's closest to earth during its orbit—so it will appear super large on the horizon) and is paired with the June summer solstice (when the sun cuts its highest path in the sky—and a smattering of atmospheric dust and pollution, and the whole thing will give off an amber—or "honey"—hue). The color of this moon was hard to capture, but it was literally HONEY yellow and what a glow. It lit up the Atlantic and the beach!

Yesterday evening we took our last walk on the beach and I decided to pose for a photo on top of one of the life guard chairs. Sitting on these chairs seems to be a very popular destination after hours with folks. I can see why in a way because you do get quite a bird's eye view from up there. It attracts the young and old alike. Kids like to climb up the chair like a jungle gym and adults seem to like to venture up there for a quiet minute's peace away from what is happening below them on the beach. Naturally I can safely say this because behind this chair was where our condo was situated and from our balcony I got to observe so much of what was happening on a nightly basis. 


This morning I felt like I was moving in slow motion as we were packing up our condo. 
We really needed this time away and in all honesty I was just beginning to relax and unwind. We could have used several more weeks by the beach. It was my hope that in this week's time Peter would have lost his cough and we would have come back feeling stronger. I can't say that this is true however for either of us. 

The condo space was truly lovely and met our needs. The actual living space was much smaller than what we live in at home, yet what made the space absolutely memorable was the outdoor component. That I wouldn't have traded for anything. 





Here was our amazing view! We practically lived out on the deck, which was right off the living room. We kept the sliding door open all day long while we were in the condo so we could here the ocean waves crashing onto the shore. The bird traffic was amazing with pelicans flying over non-stop and daily dolphin sightings. The balcony alone made this week long trip completely memorable. 

When we tired of the tall chairs and table, we moved to the lounging chairs. Which is where I wrote most of the blogs... facing the Atlantic! Something I will miss this week. 







Our drive home today took about six hours. We hit what seemed like one traffic jam after the other. As we drove through Newport News
I saw many aircraft carriers in port and I tried to snap some photos while in the moving car! 

June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2003. We took Mattie to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, commemorating the site where the first flight took place in this Country. Thanks to the ingenuity of Wilbur and Orville Wright. After four years of experimentation, they achieved the first successful airplane flights in 1903. In Kitty Hawk, NC, at the site where this museum is located. I had Mattie pose by a space suit and given that he was in a carrier on Peter's back, some how this photo worked out height wise!


Quote of the day: Sometimes I guess it just feels better to know that you have someone to help you when you can’t even help yourself. ~ Rebecca Gober


Today we journeyed back to Roanoke Island and visited the Elizabethan Gardens. We had taken Mattie to these Gardens many times before. But a lot seemed to have changed in a decade! We are so happy we returned, it was such a glorious and peaceful a place to visit. This is the entrance to Elizabethan Gardens, which is comprised of 10 acres and over 500 species of plants. Construction actually began for the Gardens on the historic date of June 2, 1953, the date Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England. The Gardens were formally opened August 18, 1960, on the 373rd anniversary of the birth of Virginia Dare, the first child born in America of English parentage. 

The Garden is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I. Though we visited the Garden previously, this bronze statue is a relatively new addition! It is huge and a very impressive structure which captures your attention almost as soon as you enter the Gardens. 














This is the first sight you see as you enter into the Gardens! It looks like a true English garden.









There were signs by many of the flowers indicating what we were looking at and the signs had a phone number that can be dialed. I decided to dial into many of these signs and got some additional information that was not posted on the signs. It was an interesting way to get some facts and to tour the gardens. 

The lushness of the gardens!!!












On the property are also several greenhouses. While in this location, we bumped into the assistant property manager working on one of the flower beds. He had arranged a fascinating bed of flowers in the shape of an eye lid. But we did not recognize the flowers he planted. He told us about them, they are called ginger lilies and apparently when they bloom in the late summer they are incredibly fragrant. So before we left the gardens, in the gift shop, we bought our own ginger lily to take home. Now we shall see if we can grow and cultivate it. It is a bulb so in theory we should be able to take it inside in the winter, just like we do with our amaryllis. In any case, as I continued to chat with this fellow, I learned that he lost his grandmother and he was very close to her. Working in this Garden makes him feel a spiritual connection to her. He thought that this probably sounded strange to me, but of course to me this sounded absolutely NORMAL!

The pathways along the Garden were just incredible. Easy to walk along and something to see at every turn. 

















Another pathway!















This was the hydrangea pathway! The Gardens literally had hydrangeas in every shape and color. 










These are lace cap hydrangeas. Not your usual snowball type hydrangea.











In the middle of the Gardens stands a 430 year old oak tree! 

















Peter was standing in the middle of the boxwood garden! Not everyone can smell the incredible peachy fragrance of boxwoods. But they are intoxicating!





In the middle of all of this is also the Atlantic Ocean!














My favorite part of the Gardens however is the Sunken Garden! This garden was literally taken from an estate in Georgia and transported to North Carolina.... including the statues and the fountain, which were originally from Italy! 

This was an amazing sight to see. You just wanted to sit here for hours. It was that beautiful and peaceful. 









The fountain was glorious and was surrounded by statues featuring roman gods such as Venus, Apollo, and Diana. 









A close up of the statues.


















As we ended our tour of the Gardens, we were greeted by several black swallowtail butterflies. It could be coincidence, but I instead took it as a sign. Mattie was with us on this trip fluttering with us, by us, and around us. I rather him be with us just like I see the countless other intact families traveling around us. But of course that isn't what our life looks like now. A reality which continues to be hard to explain to people who are not on our journey. This evening Peter and I are going out to dinner and then will return to pack up our condo to make our return trip home to Washington, DC tomorrow. Amazing how fast a week goes by. 



June 12, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2003. Mattie was sitting on the couch taking a break between beach adventures checking out one of his favorite books.... Goodnight Moon. I still remember who gave me this book, my mentor from graduate school, Don Linkowski. When Mattie was born, Don gave me several gifts for Mattie, the book being one of them! Unfortunately like many people in my life, Don died too soon with a massive heart attack months after his retirement party from the University. Any case, Mattie loved this book and Peter and I were SO familiar with this story we practically could recite it by heart! 


Quote of the day: A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself. ~ Daniel Wallace


Last night we had a real treat of a glorious Mattie Moon over the Atlantic. It was practically beaming into our condo! A message from Peter....... "Mattie Moon - As some of you may know, the moon always reminds us of Mattie, ever since his first preschool symbol of "Mattie Moon" was given to him by our dear friend Margaret. Tomorrow night is a full moon and one they call the "honey" moon since it will be colored not white but slightly honey-like because of its position relative to the earth and the sun (think eclipse). The nights leading up to the full moon (like last night) show of an ever-increasing moon and last night was a real treat to see the moon rise over the water."

I have to say in addition to the moon all aglow last night, we had various funny sightings going on in front of us. I literally got out the binoculars to check it all out. We had a woman dancing to herself in the sand, then we had a couple come out practically in the dark with a metal detector, a flash light, and a sifter looking for "treasure" on the beach, we had two young guys playing football in front of the woman dancing, and we also had a family with a flashlight searching for ghost crabs..... tiny crabs that come out at night along the shores. It was better than reality TV last, all from the perch of our balcony seats! A night of entertainment I won't forget anytime soon. 


This morning started with bright sunshine, only with an ominous cloud bank moving in from the south. There were no storms (that we could hear) overnight, and Peter snapped this shot this morning. It seemed so tranquil, yet creeping in from the right were darkening clouds.



The darkening sky turned ominous and it rained in buckets. Fortunately, our balcony is covered, so Peter could snap a picture of the rain in action. Surprisingly, there were still a few die heart beach goers walking the beach in the rain.



As we have learned, no morning would be complete without our beach walkers, pelican fly-bys and of course dolphins, and once again this morning, they did not disappoint! Once the clouds started to clear and rains stopped, sure enough, along came a lumbering set of dolphins. There must have been 50 or more that took a good 30 minutes to slowly pass by our locale. 

We decided last night to head south today and to go see and climb the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, something that both Peter and I have wanted to do almost every trip we have made to the Outer Banks, but for a variety of reasons, we never got the chance to do. But today was different, and we were not going to let some little rain clouds (or in this case downpours) stop us.  Peter checked the radar and "guessed" that given the movement of clouds that Hatteras would be "climbable" by the time we got down there (it took almost 90 minutes of driving to get there from where we were staying). I snapped a shot of the weather conditions en route through the windshield.

To get down to Hatteras Island you need to cross the Oregon Inlet, one of the few openings from Currituck Sound to the open Atlantic.










The terrain of the Outer Banks is just fascinating to me because depending upon where you are on the Island it is SO different. Up by Duck (where we were yesterday) the Island seems more residential, lined with trees and is more established. As you make your way down to Hatteras, it looks very dune like. I snapped a photo because it would be hard for words to do this justice. 


As we approached the Hatteras Lighthouse, traffic stopped, but we had no idea why! Then the truck in front of us started to point. He pointed at this glorious sight! We have visited the Outer Banks for years and NEVER saw a deer. This was a first for us! 






The Outer Banks are a group of islands on the North Carolina coast that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the coastal sounds and inlets. Atlantic currents in this area made for excellent travel for ships, except in the area of Diamond Shoals, just offshore at Cape Hatteras. Nearby, the warm Gulf Stream ocean current collides with the colder Labrador Current, creating ideal conditions for powerful ocean storms and sea swells. The large number of ships that ran aground because of these shifting sandbars, including the Civil War ironclad warship USS Monitor, gave this area the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” It also led Congress to authorize the construction of the Cape Hatteras Light in 1799.

Hatteras Light is 210 feet tall and is considered the tallest brick lighthouse in North America, and according to today's park ranger, also the world. I can't confirm that fact! But it sounds good!

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse received the famous black and white stripe daymark pattern in 1873. The Lighthouse Board assigned each lighthouse a distinctive paint pattern (daymark) and light sequence (nightmark) to allow mariners to recognize it from all others during the day and night as they sailed along the coast. Hatteras is known for its spiral daymark pattern and its 7.5 flash of light pattern. 











The beauty of Hatteras in person is hard to describe. We visited this lighthouse years ago after it had been relocated to its current location. We had Mattie in tow with us but the lighthouse somehow did not look as grand and certainly had not been repainted. Today it was simply regal, bold, and strong. 













In 1999, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, was successfully relocated 2,900 feet from the spot on which it had stood since 1870 (a spot by the shoreline). Because of the threat of shoreline erosion, a natural process, the entire lighthouse was safely moved to a new site where the historic buildings and cisterns were placed in spatial and elevational relationship to each other, exactly as they had been at the original site. In 1998, I remember seeing a Discovery Channel special about the 26 day moving process of Hatteras Light to its current location and somehow when you see this structure in person it seems almost impossible to think it was ever moved. It looks so natural where it is, like it was always sitting there! 




We timed it just right today, and having bad weather on our side this morning helped with crowds, in that we only had a 20 minute wait for tickets to climb up to the top of the lighthouse! Peter and I managed up 257 steps
in heat and humidity! The steps are made out of metal and as you can see they are spiral. There is a window in the lighthouse at every 31st step, otherwise there is NO air!

They allow around 20 or so people up to climb at a time. You can see the stairway is narrow!










But to get to the top is worth the climb! The view is incredible. Unlike the history I have read about the other Outer Bank lighthouses, the social life at Hatteras was actually quite good. The keepers weren't isolated and in fact they are quoted as saying that "the lighthouse was a favorite place to visit by the village folk so we had lots of company especially on Sunday afternoons and the evening hours when the heat of the summer was unbearable in the wooded areas of the villages."








The view from the top of the lighthouse. Here you can see the two keepers homes. The one of the right was for the primary light keeper and his family and the one of the left was the house for all the assistant light keepers and their families. 















The views on top of the lighthouse were spectacular!












The Atlantic as seen from the top of Cape Hatteras Light!









I have to admit that there was much more happiness to going down the stairs versus going up! 










Vicki and Hatteras! I have loved lighthouses for as long as I can remember, so climbing this one today was a treat.

















As we drove back to our condo we passed another great lighthouse, Bodie Island Lighthouse. Bodie is actually pronounced.... BODY! This one is also made out of brick, but notice its daymark pattern. Stripes not a spiral!!! This lighthouse is 164 feet tall, so significantly shorter than Hatteras , but built in 1872, just like Hatteras. Bodie has been closed to the public for as long as I have known it and only opened its doors to the public in 2013. Though we did not walk up its steps today, there were many people in and around the lighthouse and very excited about this new venture!






Two lighthouses in one day! With a fleeting blue sky as a backdrop, this lighthouse truly stands out in all its glory! 

















It is six days into our trip and Peter and I went out to dinner tonight. I finally felt in the mood to do this. Rather ironic since we are going home on Saturday. I need more time away in all reality since it takes me a week just to begin to unwind. I am too stressed out, anxious, and over worked for one week away to accomplish anything and Peter is still sick and fighting a horrific cough. So frankly a week away is a good start but we need more time. Tonight we ventured back to Duck, and to the Sanderling Inn property, which is the backdrop of this photo. We ate at one of their restaurant's called, Kimball's Kitchen. A very special and unforgettable evening!

While dining at the restaurant, our table overlooked this glorious view of the Sound! While eating we had a rain storm, grey clouds, and then the sun came out. We had it all!